Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is a tasty wood-decaying fungus which can be found, among other places, here in the Czech Republic where it’s available in supermarkets. The mushroom got its name from its shape and colour as both resemble the shape and colour of an oyster. The oyster mushroom has a cap of about 5–35 cm in diameter. Young fungi have a flat cap; later, the cap curves, starts resembling an oyster, and gains a grey or blue-grey colour. Oyster mushrooms grow in clusters which can weigh-up to several kilogrammes.
In the wild, they can be found primarily in leafy forests from May to winter months if temperatures don’t drop too low. Oyster mushrooms are also grown commercially as they’re highly sought-after not only as food, but primarily as a means of improving one’s health. They’ve been used for centuries by traditional Chinese medicine and were first mentioned as early as in Shennong Bencao Jing, the materia medica of traditional Chinese medicine. Its artificial cultivation started in 199 AD. The European continent was first introduced to it in 1775 by N. J. Freiherr, a Danish natural scientist who termed it Agaricus ostreatus. P. Kummer, a German mycologist, later changed the name.
As will be further explained elsewhere, oyster mushrooms offer many benefits to humans, naturally depending on the composition of the particular fungus. They contain great quantities of bioactive substances, some of which will be discussed in more detail.
EU legislation prevents us from making health claims about fungi and herbs. You can find more information about fungi and herbal blends online, for example on tcmencyklopedie.cz.